By Norm McLaughlin

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is a great way to get your product or service in front of potential customers. Both big and small business can benefit from this digital marketing strategy. For many it’s a successful and profitable strategy. However, other business owners complain that it just didn’t work for them. Here are five reasons why your PPC campaign is failing.

1. You’re Not Getting Enough Impressions

This means that not enough people are seeing your ad. If people don’t see your ad then your PPC campaign isn’t going to get you anywhere.

You may need to review the keywords you’re targeting. In determining the target keywords for any PPC campaign it’s important to conduct thorough keyword research and you should have a healthy mix of short-tail and long-tail keywords.

Sometimes the language we use around our businesses and the language our clients use are somewhat different. For this reason you need to understand how a client might speak about your business. Build your keyword list around search terms that would be used when customers are looking for a business such as yours. It’s always worthwhile to conduct market research and actually ask potential clients what they would type (or speak) into their search engine if they wanted to find you.

It’s also worth studying your competitors and plenty of online resources are available which allow you to determine the keywords being targeted by your competitors.

2. Your Impression Share is Too Low

Let’s assume that you’ve got your list of target keywords about right, but you’re finding that your ads aren’t being shown often enough. You can check your impression share for each keyword using your PPC platform, whether Google Ads or Microsoft Advertising. Impression share is the percentage of occasions when an ad is shown out of all the occasions when it could have been shown, for a particular keyword search.

If your impression share is too low, or the average position of your ad on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) is too low, then you’ll need to look at increasing your bids in order to compete more effectively against your competitors. Having said that, determining how this plays into why your PPC campaign is failing it’s not quite that simple.

The position of your ad on the SERP is determined not only by how much you’re willing to pay for that click, but also by the quality score allocated by Google or Microsoft to the keyword which triggered the ad. The quality score for any given keyword is made up of three components, two of which are under your control. These are the Ad Relevance and the Landing Page Experience. You should aim to achieve above average ratings for both of these factors. By achieving this, your quality score will be higher and the price you will need to pay to attain the same position on the SERP will be lower.

The third component of quality score is the Expected Clickthrough Rate which is determined by Google or Microsoft. The rating for this factor is based on how likely their algorithms determine it is that your ad will be clicked.

The best way to achieve an above average rating for your Ad Relevance is by matching your ad copy closely with the intent of the searcher. The ad should speak clearly to the potential client’s search term and contain the actual keywords used if this is at all possible. You can experiment with different versions of your ad copy and observe very quickly within the Google Ads or Microsoft Advertising platform whether you have achieved an above average rating for your keywords.

Likewise, your landing page should clearly match the potential client’s search intent. The copy used on your landing page should include similar language to that used in the ad. You can then develop this further thereby leading the prospective client to engage further with you.

3. Your Clickthrough Rate is Too Low

PPC clickthrough rates vary greatly from industry to industry. According to Wordstream, the overall average clickthrough rate for Google Ads is about 2%. You can see your clickthrough rates for your different keywords in the PPC platform. This allows you to gain an understanding of how you are performing compared to others in your industry.

Low clickthrough rate has one of two causes. First, people may not actually be seeing your ad if its position on the SERP is too low. For example some ads may be shown below the organic search results and these are likely to be ineffective as many searchers will have already made their choice before scrolling this far down the page.

You can see the average position you’re achieving on the SERP for each of your keywords in the PPC platform. I would recommend targeting a position between two and three. Achieving first position is possible but likely to be expensive.

The other main reason for a low clickthrough rate may simply be that your ad doesn’t capture the searcher’s attention. Your ad copy needs to be sufficiently compelling so that the prospective client will want to click on your ad. Read your competitors’ ads. This allows you to see if you can learn anything, and to determine your point of difference.

4. Your Cost Per Click is Too High

I’ve seen advertisers enter the PPC realm with their ads always appearing in the top position. Then after a short time they have disappeared completely. This usually means they found PPC advertising too expensive and abandoned this strategy, rather than seeking to adjust their approach.

You will pay more for your clicks if your quality scores are too low, as discussed above. It’s essential to create high quality ads which click through to high quality landing pages. This maximizes your quality score, thus reducing your costs.

If you are targeting the top position on the SERP then you will be paying a premium to achieve this. You may find that your costs per click will drop if you target position two or three, while not adversely affecting your clickthrough rate.

5. Your Conversion Rate is Too Low

So you have a satisfactory number of potential clients clicking on your ads, and your costs per click are reasonable. You’re finding that, although people are clicking through to your website, not enough are taking the next step. This is your call to action (CTA) and could be to call you, to make an online booking, to fill in a form, or something else.

If your conversion rate is too low, then it means that your landing pages aren’t performing their function adequately. You may need more compelling content on your landing pages in order to captivate the potential client’s attention. Or you may just need to make it more clear what you want them to do now that they’ve clicked through to your site. This necessitates the use of crystal clear Calls to Action (CTA’s) on your landing pages.

You may also need to consider whether your landing pages actually match the customer’s search intent, or whether they communicate something else. There should be a very obvious straight line progression from the search term typed in to Google or Bing, to the ad displayed as a result, to the content of the landing page.

So, Why Is Your PPC Campaign Failing?

You may represent one of those businesses which have tried Google Ads or Microsoft Advertising but quickly abandoned it. Or you may be struggling to attain a satisfactory return on your PPC advertising investment at the moment. Hopefully this article has helped you to pinpoint why your PPC campaign is failing, and what you can do to turn it around.